Sunday, January 20, 2013

Our Flour and More Winter Fun

Over two years ago (time flies!), we began to use grain to grind our own whole wheat flour.  We started this process using a manual grain grinder because we didn't feel it was justified to spend a ton of money on this new endeavor when we were not yet sure if it was something that we would like and stick to.  Well, we did like it and came to the realization that we needed something other than a hand cranked grain mill if we were going to keep up with it.  I do love a good workout, but it just wasn't realistic to hand crank the grain mill at the rate we needed flour.  It turns out that cranking 3 cups of whole wheat flour for one and only one pizza dough takes more time than I thought it would.  There are a lot of products out there that are highly recommended, but we settled on the Kitchen Aid Grain Mill that fits with my beautiful red kitchen aid mixer.  It is simple to use.  We store our grain in air tight containers and then dump them into the mill's hopper.
We set the mill to the finest setting to get the smoothest flour possible, crank the motor on and Voila!
Fresh Flour!

We love it.  The mill does work the mixer pretty hard and the manufacturer recommends grinding no more than 10 cups at a time and then giving the mixer a 45 minute rest before using again, which is no problem for our use. 

With fresh flour on hand this weekend, I set out for some baking after I saw the photo from this recipe for Chocolate Chip Spelt Bars over at MsFitrunner.  They looked so good.  I had different ingredients on hand and modified the recipe, which is something I regularly do.  I review recipes and get an idea as to the proportion of wet and dry ingredients, use what works for me and give it a whirl.  These turned out pretty good.  Thus far they are toddler, Mom and Grandparent approved.  Here's the recipe I used:

Chocolate Chip Coconut Bars
~1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
~1/2 cup wheat germ
~3 tbs Trader Joe's Organic Hemp Protein Powder (chocolate of course)
~1/3 cup honey
~1 3/4 cups organic low fat milk
~1 tbs olive oil
~1 tsp almond extract
~3 small eggs
~ 2 handfuls of dark chocolate chips
~1 heaping handful unsweetened coconut (optional)
Mix honey, eggs, milk, olive oil and almond extract in one bowl.  Mix flour, protein powder and wheat germ in another.  Combine the wet & dry ingredients.  Fold in the chocolate chips and coconut.  Spread in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 18-20 minutes.  Let cool, cut into bars, enjoy and store the rest in an air tight container in the fridge to grab and go during the week, or you can freeze for later eats!  These bars have a muffin like texture and are a nice treat with a hot cup of tea or coffee.


As for winter fitness, I am not currently training for any particular races and my running mileage is down.  I have been keeping up with spinning and have made it out snowshoeing a couple times the past two weeks, which I love.  It's a great workout for the legs and the hills are no joke either.  I head out to one of our local golf courses and time flies by out there.  It's so quiet and refreshing.  Did I mention I love it?  I just wish there was more daylight so I could fit more of it in.  I think it's a great substitute for running and perhaps I will invest in those snowshoes designed for running some day.  Running on hills in those things has to be an amazing workout! Until next time, here's a shot of my furry training buddy who loves it out there at least as much as I do. Have a great week!

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